I. The West
Beyond the moor and mountain crest
— Comrade, look not on the west —
The sun is down and drinks away
From air and land the lees of day.
The long cloud and the single pine
Sentinel the ending line,
And out beyond it, clear and wan,
Reach the gulfs of evening on.
The son of woman turns his brow
West from forty counties now,
And, as the edge of heaven he eyes,
Thinks eternal thoughts, and sighs.
Oh wide’s the world, to rest or roam,
With change abroad and cheer at home,
Fights and furloughs, talk and tale,
Company and beef and ale.
But if I front the evening sky
Silent on the west look I,
And my comrade, stride for stride,
Paces silent at my side.
Comrade, look not on the west:
‘Twill have the heart out of your breast;
‘Twill take your thoughts and sink them far,
Leagues beyond the sunset bar.
Oh lad, I fear that yon’s the sea
Where they fished for you and me,
And there, from whence we both were ta’en,
You and I shall drown again.
Send not on your soul before
To dive from that beguiling shore,
And let not yet the swimmer leave
His clothes upon the sands of eve.
Too fast to yonder strand forlorn
We journey, to the sunken bourn,
To flush the fading tinges eyed
By other lads at eventide.
Wide is the world, to rest or roam,
And early ‘tis for turning home:
Plant your heel on earth and stand,
And let’s forget our native land.
When you and I are spilt on air
Long we shall be strangers there;
Friends of flesh and bone are best:
Comrade, look not on the west.
A.E. Housman, Last Poems
Public domain: first published in 1922.